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Columbia's Disabilities Commission recommends more adaptive programs for children

Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 7:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — There aren’t enough adaptive programs for children with disabilities in Columbia, members of a city advisory commission said Thursday afternoon.

Christy Brookins, a member of Columbia's Disabilities Commission, presented a report to the group based on research she's done about activities available to children with disabilities . She said the Parks and Recreation Department and Columbia Public Schools should have more programs allowing children with disabilities to be more physically active.

“The amount of things that are accessible to the kids is just very, very limited compared to the amount that is available to kids without a disability,” Brookins said.

She recommended the commissioners talk to staff at the Parks and Recreation Department about creating more adaptive programs, such as the adaptive tae kwon do programs offered in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Brookins said child-care centers often refuse to take children with disabilities, saying they require staff members to pay less attention to other children. There would also be an issue if a child with a disability were to fall or be otherwise injured.

“There’s so many centers that would not even consider a child with a disability because it’s such a liability,” Brookins said.

She said families are often left with an extra expense of $80 to $120 to get their children into special programs, which is hard on parents who work part time to take care of a special-needs child.

“With a family that is strapped already with medical expenses, not being able to work full time, (that) is a costly thing,” Brookins said, adding that Boone County Family Resources provides programs and aid to families of children with disabilities.

“If you’re not connected with Boone County Family Resources and you have a disability, you need to get connected,” Brookins said.

The commission also discussed its disabilities forum, although it doesn't have a specific date yet.

“(The purpose of the forum is) to enhance communication between people with disabilities in Columbia and the city officials,” commission chairman Homer Page said.

He hopes to have three or four forums during the year on topics such as accessibility, sidewalks, health services and emergency preparedness.

Commissioners also talked about the possibility of meeting in the new City Council chambers. Cheryl Price, a member of the commission, joked about having the mayor act as a doorman; the council chambers do not have automatic doors.

The commission also discussed upcoming events:

  • Mayoral candidate forum: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24 in the Daniel Boone Regional Library Friends’ Room.
  • Ninth Annual Disability Rights Legislative Day: March 23 (legislator visits from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and noon to 2:30 p.m.; rallies from 11:15 a.m. to noon and 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

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